Got a clunker, but don’t know what to buy?Fear not, we’ve done some of the work for you. Thanks to the government’s Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) program, also known as Cash for Clunkers, right now is a great time to buy a car. While the CARS program provides either a $3,500 or $4,500 credit, several manufacturers are adding incentives on top of the government cash. Be aware that the dealer has nothing to do with the government money, so you should still barter for the best deal. For instance, factory to dealer marketing support, as offered on several of the models featured, is money that the factory pays to the dealer to sell a car. If you know about this incentive, the dealer will be willing to give up most or even all of that cash to sell the car. On the following pages, you’ll find several enticing cars you can buy with Clunkers cash. Where applicable, current factory and dealer incentives are listed with each model, as is the bottom line price when CARS cash (we've assumed the $4,500 amount) is considered. Happy shopping!
Photos couresy repsective manufacturers
2009 Audi A3
Base Price: $26,950
Incentive: $2,500 marketing support cash
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$19,950
If America is truly headed toward smaller cars, even in the luxury classes, the Audi A3 is a good example of our possible future. The A3 offers the size and spritely handling of the Volkswagen GTI with the interior luxury that Audi has made its trademark. The hatchback body style provides lots of useful storage space, and there is enough room to carry four friends. The A3’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is one of the best on the market. It puts out a potent 200 horsepower while also delivering 29 mpg on the highway. This is a great opportunity to get a luxury car for under $20,000.
2009 BMW 335d
Base Price: $43,900
Incentive: $4,500 BMW "Eco Credit"
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$34,900
How would you like to own a BMW 3 Series with 265 horsepower, 425 pound-feet of torque and a 36 mpg highway fuel economy rating? Surely, such a well-rounded car doesn’t exist. Well, it does. It’s the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel powered 335d, and it’s one of the best deals you can buy with Clunkers cash. Buyers will learn that the 335d’s diesel engine delivers hybrid-like fuel economy with lots of torque at low speeds. That makes it much more fun to drive than most hybrids, which tend to lack power. If you haven’t tried a diesel lately (or ever), this is your chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
2009 Dodge Grand Caravan
Base Price: $28,660 + $630 for V6
Incentives: $3500 Consumer Cash + up to $1,000 Regional Bonus Cash
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$19,790
Be they ever so geeky, no vehicle serves a family better than a minivan. Dodge’s people hauler boasts some great features, like second-row seats that can either fold into the floor or swivel to face the rear. While all three of the Grand Caravan’s engines are eligible for the CARS program, the 4.0-liter V6 is your best bet because it provides more power and better fuel economy. To make the family happy, add Entertainment Group 2 ($2,200), which includes dual rear DVD screens, a hard-drive radio and a rearview camera. That brings your total to $21,990, and you get a lot of vehicle for the price.
2009 Dodge Journey
Base Price: $20,925
Incentives: $3,500 Consumer Cash
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$12,925
The Chrysler Group has been criticized for a weak lineup in the wake of its bankruptcy, but the Dodge Journey is one of the company’s stronger products. While the Journey doesn’t have as much interior space as competitors like the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, it does have a flexible cargo area. Innovative storage features include a fold-flat front passenger seat with an underseat tray big enough for a purse and a pair of second-row underfloor bins that will each hold a six pack and some ice. Plus, the Journey offers carlike road manners and some family-friendly entertainment options.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Base Price: $27,270
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$22,770
Given the Fusion Hybrid’s combined 39 mpg rating, it will qualify for the full $4,500 rebate no matter what vehicle you turn in. It is on this list because we feel it is simply one of the best hybrids on the market today. The Fusion’s 2010 update has given it better exterior looks and a classy interior replete with soft-touch surfaces. Plus, the instrument panel has Ford’s unique SmartGauge with EcoGuide system that encourages efficient driving. If you want a family friendly midsize hybrid that gets excellent fuel economy and doesn’t sacrifice handling or power, the Fusion Hybrid is a great choice. With $4,500 off, that's a smart deal you can't pass up.
2009 Hyundai Sonata
Base Price: $18,700
Incentive: $3,000 marketing support or $2,000 Customer Cash + gas for $1.49/gallon for one year
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $11,700
Hyundai has built a reputation for value by offering comfortable cars packed with features at prices lower than the competition. That’s an important distinction when you have to compete against the likes of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. In fact, the Sonata is comparable to the Camry as both are engineered more for a silky ride than sporty handling. Buyers will be pleased with the Sonata’s interior, which looks and feels upscale, has lots of room, and offers plenty of amenities. The Sonata offers two incentive programs. Take the $3,000 cash. You’ll save more in the long run.
2010 Pontiac Solstice
Base Price: $24,275
Incentives: $2,500 Customer Cash + $750 marketing support
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $16,525
Maybe you don’t need a new car but you have a clunker sitting around that you’d like to trade for a toy. Given its $3,250 worth of incentives, the Pontiac Solstice, a scrappy little two seat roadster or coupe, can be had for a song. The Solstice roadster offers the joys of open top driving in a sexy package. It handles like it’s on rails and the turbocharged GXP model packs 260 giggle-inducing horses under the hood. Plus, given Pontiac’s lame duck status, the new coupe body style is sure to become a collectible. Go ahead, treat yourself.
2010 Pontiac Vibe
Base Price: $16,100
Incentives: $2,500 Customer Cash + $750 marketing support
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $8,350
As part of General Motors’ viability plan, Pontiac is scheduled to shut down operations as of the end of 2010. But consumers shouldn’t shy away because GM has said it will service Pontiacs through other dealers. The Pontiac Vibe shares its design and engines with the Toyota Matrix, but the Japanese sibling has no current incentives. The hatchback design gives the Vibe has almost as much cargo capacity as a compact SUV, but with more nimble handling and thriftier fuel mileage. The Vibe is a value with no incentives. Take $7,750 off the sticker and the Vibe is a smokin’ deal.
2009 Saab 9-3
Base Price: $34,150 + $1,350 5-speed automatic transmission
Incentive: $5,000 marketing support
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $26,000
General Motors is planning to sell Saab, but not before offering some great deals. Right now buyers can take advantage of $5,000 marketing support cash on 9-3 Sport models equipped with the 210-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the five-speed automatic transmission. Cars with the manual transmission or the 2.8-liter engine don’t qualify. Both the $34,150 sedan and the $38,305 wagon, which is called SportCombi, meet the minimum 22 mpg requirement of the CARS program, and both look great, handle well, and have roomy, comfortable cabins.
2009 Saturn Outlook
Base Price: $30,625
Incentive: $3,000 marketing support
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $23,125
Families stuck in a large SUV like the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe or Dodge Durango would be wise to trade in those gas hogs for a Saturn Outlook. The Outlook is part of GM’s popular new range of eight-passenger midsize crossovers that also includes the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia, but it’s the only one with a sizable incentive. Buyers coming out of big SUVs will find the Outlook delivers much better road manners, more room that is easier to access and considerably better fuel economy. With comfortable crossovers like the Outlook available today, the only reason to keep those large, truck-type SUVs is for towing capacity.
2009 Smart Fortwo
Base Price: $13,335
Incentive: Special Financing
Clunkers Trade-in Price:$99/month
Okay, so this one is literally a Smart deal, and since Smart USAwas one of the fir manufacturers to offer a promotion around CARS we thought we'd include it. All Smart vehicles qualify for the $4,500 voucher no matter what you turn in, and Smart is running a promotion to get customers into a Smart Fourtwo for $99 a month. Don't get too excited though, make sure to read the fine print; after 35 months of $99 payments, the Fortwo is yours only after a final balloon payment of $6,667.50 at the end of the loan term. If you live in a city and have kept a clunker around for occasional transportation, you might want to look at trading it in for an urban-friendly Smart Fortwo.
2010 Toyota Prius
Base Price: $22,000
Clunkers Trade-in Price: $17,500
Redesigned for the 2010 model year, the new Prius is more comfortable, more refined, more powerful, and more efficient than ever. It has enough room for a family of five, and the “green” image that many environmentally conscious buyers covet. It also plays well in the goal CARS program goal of putting more fuel efficient vehicles on the road. No car is more fuel efficient than the 2010 Toyota Prius, which boasts a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 50 mpg, making it certain to qualify for the full $4,500 government rebate. While there is no incentive on the Prius, consider the Clunkers cash as a free way to pay for hybrid technology.